In 2017, shopping and eating out remained the leading leisure activities in Saudi Arabia, making the country an excellent choice for potential restaurant operators. High disposable incomes mean that consumers eat out regularly.
The main aim of the government’s Saudization policy is to reduce unemployment among nationals by encouraging companies to maintain a specific Saudi national-to-expat ratio. This is a particular challenge for restaurant operators as the majority of employees in foodservice have always been non-Saudi.
The leading fast food chains in Saudi Arabia continued to invest heavily in advertising in 2017, including digital media, television, print and outdoor advertising. In addition to reinforcing brand awareness, such campaigns were used to highlight the launch of new menu items and services, as well as the opening of new outlets and promotional deals.
Even though Saudi Arabia’s foodservice industry has always been dominated by independent players, chained outlets, either international or local, have been growing more rapidly than independents in recent years. Key international players include McDonald's, KFC, Baskin-Robbins, Burger King and Hardee's.
Food trucks offering fast food are becoming more visible in Saudi Arabia. This can be attributed to rising rental costs, the increasing popularity of outdoor activities and strong demand for catering services.
Due to an increase in the country’s young population and these consumers’ rising demand for healthier food, fast food operators are having to add healthier options to their menus. Local independent brands which are owned by young entrepreneurs and offer menus which appeal to the traditional preferences of Saudi consumers continued to emerge and perform well in fast food in 2017.
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This report originates from Passport, our Fast Food research and analysis database.
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